Customers Sue Whiteaker and Don Heppner get some help to track down products from Deryk Mortensen

Customers Sue Whiteaker and Don Heppner get some help to track down products from Deryk Mortensen

Update: First Vancouver Island Lowe’s opens in Nanaimo

NANAIMO - First of two Lowe’s stores to open on Vancouver Island hosted morning grand opening ceremony.

Lowe’s doesn’t cut a ribbon when it opens a new store – it saws a board.

Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog and Diane Brennan, city councillor, took turns with a hand saw to cut their way through a “grand opening” board to officially open Vancouver Island’s first Lowe’s store this morning (Sept 1).

The ceremony, attended by dozens of customers, company executives and special guests, included production promotions and give-a-ways, plus and $10,000 donation to Habitat for Humanity Mid-Vancouver Island Society, presented to society board chairman Dave Hitchcock by Jim Caldwell, Lowe’s executive vice-president for Canada and Deryk Mortensen, store manager.

The Nanaimo Lowe’s, located in Nanaimo North Town Centre, reused the building and site infrastructure of the former Target store and includes nearly 9,200 square metres of retail space plus a 1,115 square metre garden centre.

According to a Lowe’s press release, the property acquisition, development and construction represent a $27 million investment in Nanaimo.

The store has already hired just shy of 120 full- and part-time employees and is continuing to hire.

“A lot of our positions are full time and part time and those are guaranteed hours – a minimum of 24 hours [weekly] for our part-time employees and full time’s obviously guaranteed 40 and that comes with full benefits, MSP being paid for,” Mortensen said. “You know, there’s so many internal programs, like stock options and mutual funds, that Lowe’s has. There’s so much beyond just the hourly wage that the majority of our associates are able to take advantage of, and what they work so hard for.”

Lowe’s specializes in products for the home, including building materials, appliances, tools and seasonal garden equipment, such as lawn mowers, rototillers and snow blowers. About 40,000 products are carried in-store with more products available via special order.

Mortensen said he considers Lowe’s more of a competitor for Home Depot, rather than its neighbour Canadian Tire, which carries similar product categories, but also stocks clothing, sports equipment, plus has automotive products and a vehicle service centre.

Fred Pagotto, Lowe’s B.C. and Saskatchewan marketing director, said opening on the Island is an important move for the company.

“I think it’s huge,” Pagotto said. “It creates an extension from the Lower Mainland, helps continue to build the brand and inserts us in one more community … If you look at the area in itself, you’ve got new construction going on, a lot of renovation going on, you’ve got a vacation segment also. We want to cater to everybody, not on a business standpoint, but truthfully, on a family standpoint where we can be the choice because of the environment that our consumers shop in.”

The Nanaimo store is the company’s 50th Canadian store. A store in Prince George, B.C., was also opened Thursday morning and a Lowe’s is scheduled to open in Tillicum Centre in Victoria in November.

Lowe’s has nearly 1,800 stores in the U.S.

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